Friday, January 8, 2010

Republicans: Party Before Country

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By M.J. Rosenberg

It becomes more clear every day that the Republican opposition - in Congress and the media - is not interested in solving any of America's problems. Their only goal is to bring down the Democrats.

Some might respond that this is nothing new, and that the "out" party and its cutouts always want to destroy the other side.

But that isn't true. As recently as September 11, 2001 - and in the months following - the Democrats supported President George W. Bush and his policies. In fact, a good case can be made that the "loyal opposition" was too loyal, allowing Bush to implement terrible policies (and one terrible war) rather than appear partisan.

It is all different now that the Democrats are in power. The Republicans openly despise the President. This weekend's New York Times Magazine quotes one of the less vitriolic Republicans, Mike Huckabee, saying that he almost "lost his lunch" when he saw a photo of the Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, allowing himself to be embraced by the President.

That's pretty ugly. What would Huckabee have had the governor do, push the President of the United States away? Of course not.

Huckabee isn't a natural hater, but to make it in GOP politics, he has to act like one. (I doubt he will succeed. Faking hate is as hard as faking love).

Most Republicans have no problem just being oppositionists. They dislike Obama, they want his policies to fail, and they don't have any problem saying it.

The other day, on Good Morning, America, host George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Peter King, ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, why he thinks Obama's foreign policy is so bad. What would he do differently?

"I think one main thing would be to - just himself to use the word 'terrorism' more often," King said.

Now that's impressive - like saving Tinkerbell by clapping. If the only suggestion King can make is that Obama use the word "terrorism" more, King understands - although he can't admit it - that the President is doing everything he can.

Of course, there may be some proof that using the word "terrorism" does work. After all, following the colossal disasters of 2001, there were no other major attacks here at home for the duration of the Bush-Cheney administration. Maybe it is because Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld used the "T-word" almost incessantly, with Rudy Giuliani picking up any slack.

Former Vice President Cheney is still using the word whenever he can but not to deter anything. His transparent purpose is to ensure that if terrorists do strike, it will be the Democrats' fault. Naturally, 9/11 wasn't his fault even though both Bush and Cheney repeatedly received warnings of an impending attack.

Those warnings came from the White House anti-terrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, who urgently requested a meeting with Bush and Cheney to come up with a plan to prevent the attack. But, as Condoleezza Rice said later, there was no reason to convene such a meeting because Clarke was not specific enough about the time and place of the attack. No date. No address. No meeting.

All I can say is "thank God" that Al Gore was not President on 9/11. Unlike the Democrats' refusal to point fingers at Bush, Republicans would have exuberantly blamed Gore for the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. (The Pentagon! Can you imagine how Cheney would have exploited a successful attack on our nation's military headquarters if he and his nominal boss were not the ones in charge?).

And he's already planning to exploit the next attack should it take place. Look at the way he sent e-mails to Politico early on the morning following the near disaster over Detroit blaming the security failure on Obama. Shameless and utterly unpatriotic.

Cheney is unique in our history. Former Presidents and Vice Presidents tend not to virulently criticize the succeeding President out of respect for the office, if not for the new President.

But not Cheney, who demonstrated little respect for the Presidency even when he was in power. (Has any previous Vice President ever shown such indifference to how his policies were affecting his own President? Has any worked so hard at pulling the wool over his President's eyes?)

And yet, somehow, Cheney and the Republicans act like they are the party of country when they are, in fact, only the party of....Party.

After all, in recent years, there has been little evidence that the Republicans put any loyalty above party loyalty (except for their loyalty to the idea of not spending an extra dime on anyone but the already wealthy). If they did, they would not revel in their unanimous votes against every major Obama proposal.

Are we really expected to believe that not a single Republican liked the President's stimulus package or Senate health care reform bill? Not a single one?

Or that not a single one supports the President on terrorism? After all, as Peter King demonstrates, they really don't have any significant differences with Obama over the terrorism issue other than semantics.

Here is what's happening. The Republican leadership put out the unambiguous word that the job of GOP legislators is to oppose everything Obama does or says with the goal of destroying his Presidency.

And they let their flock know that Republicans who stray (like Crist) will face the full wrath of Limbaugh, Beck, Kristol, Savage and the rest. So, even for Republicans of a more moderate stripe, the path of least resistance is just to say "no" to everything.

And that even means ridiculing the President's efforts to keep America safe from terrorism.

The President understands the game the Republicans are playing, which is why he said this in his speech on Thursday: "Now is not a time for partisanship, it's a time for citizenship -- a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands."

But he knows that there is no chance of that happening. Citizenship? The concept only applies to the opposition when the Republicans are in power. Otherwise, it's all out war and, as Rush Limbaugh was honest enough to admit, hoping for the worst.

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